Saturday, December 8, 2012

Jack Fry's: That Semi-Clandestine Flavor Paradise

Ever since I can remember, Jack Fry's has been on the tongue of special occasion celebrating Louisvillians. It is truly an establishment of our fair city, tucked in the Highlands right before Bardstown Road merges with Baxter Avenue. The shades are always drawn, a rich amalgam of teasing fragrances emerge from their kitchen, and I am caught on the sidewalk every time in a daydream of Jack's fine fare. I have a feeling they keep the shades drawn to prevent wanderers like me from pasting their faces against the glass, marveling at the works of art that come to the table. However, it goes along with their speakeasy feel too, so we'll go with that.

Jack Fry's is a restaurant full of history, opening in 1933 by Jack and his wife Flossie. A more romantic story of Louisville couldn't be better told, complete with "back room" bookkeeping and bootlegging, and a love of sports and our beloved thoroughbreds. A walk into the restaurant today transports you straight back to that era, frozen in time by the myriad of photographs and memorabilia displayed liberally and delightfully throughout the entire dining area. It's funny to think that it once had a brief hiatus as a Mexican restaurant, before returning to its former glory.

Today, Jack's is a restaurant that continuously serves up fine cuisine from the very soul of our hometown. Although it is not quite within my means to visit Jack Fry's with any regularity, it is and has been one of my favorite spots to celebrate a special occasion. On this particular visit, we were celebrating my mother's birthday, and seeing as that Jack Fry's is her favorite restaurant, we were more than happy to oblige.

We were kindly greeted at the door and quickly led to our seats (I would recommend making a reservation, especially on the weekend and during the holiday season...good luck during Derby). Our waitress was pleasant and attentive, delivering baskets of bread and their just whipped butter cream happiness on the side. The specials were recited as we swooned in our upright chairs, and we were soon faced with making a very important decision: what were we going to eat for dinner?!

Beef Filet
My mother and sister settled on the beef filet served on a crispy potato cake (an unforgettable combination of textures and flavors, causing my mom and sister to uncharacteristically order the exact same dish), with asparagus and prosciutto served with a sinful sage beurre blanc sauce and rounded off with parmesan. You can cut this filet with a fork and the elements of this plate pieced together on a fork will subsequently melt in your mouth. Please, just writing that description makes me relive the moment...give me a second to read that over again 50 more times...
Lamb Shank

...Okay, that's out of my system.

On my side of the table, I decided to go with the lamb shank. If I'm going to spring for Jack Fry's I like to try something on their menu that I know only Jack's can get right. It is a special occasion after all. Served garnished with garbanzos, Spanish Marcona almonds, prunes, and golden raisins, the lamb shank was slow-braised with vegetables until only their deep sweetness could tell their story. Finally, it was scattered with sesame seeds that happily danced in the sauce waiting to be sopped up by the lamb shank. The meat literally fell off of the shank with the slightest whisper of movement. I merely had to think about using the fork, and there it was, ready to bring on the food coma. I was happy to submit.

For birthday dessert, a sweet individual chocolate chip bundt cake was presented topped with a house-made scoop of ice cream and a birthday candle, drizzled happily with a sweet salted caramel sauce. Three of us helped devour it and we were more than satisfied. It was the perfect amount of sweetness to bring us down from our savory adventure of a few minutes before.

We took a moment of reflection before the check arrived, and everyone was very joyfully satiated. Another successful birthday celebration. When's the next one?

Jack Fry's
1007 Bardstown Rd.
Phone: 502.452.9244

They also feature live jazz nightly, and are available for carry out!

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